THE Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, the Archbishop
of Brisbane, Dr Phillip Aspinall, has called for federal laws that
would force Churches to compensate victims of sexual abuse.
Giving evidence at a hearing of the national Royal Commission
into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Dr Aspinall
said that it would be "much quicker and simpler" for the Anglican
Church if there were a "uniform, mandatory compensation scheme"
that set the levels of financial settlement. This would force
dioceses to deal properly with compensation.
Dr Aspinall was one of a number of Anglican leaders called to
appear at the Commission's "case-study" hearing into the response
of the diocese of Grafton to claims of child sexual abuse at the
North Coast Children's Home in Lismore (News, 13 September).
Outside the hearing, Dr Aspinall was critical of the diocese's
responses to abuse allegations, saying that its senior clerics had
treated the Church's procedures with contempt. He had learnt more
in eight days at the Commission hearing than in seven years in his
dealings with the diocese, he said. Many of his letters to the
former Bishop of Grafton, the Rt Revd Keith Slater, had gone
The hearing was told that the diocese had failed to show
compassion to the survivors who had been abused at the children's
home by priests and others over several decades from 1944.
Survivors who took the diocese to court in 2007 were forced into a
settlement that gave them only $10,000 each. The diocese had
focused entirely on its own financial problems, and allowed its
"pastoral concern" to "fall entirely by the wayside", Dr Aspinall
Earlier, Bishop Slater, who resigned in May this year, publicly
apologised for his actions, and told the Commission that he was
The Commission also heard that technical problems and a backlog
meant that, nationally, the names of possibly hundreds of church
workers were yet to be entered on the Anglican Church's national
register of those accused of sexual misconduct.